Pender Harbour and Area Residents Association to Challenge Constitutional Validity of B.C.'s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA)

May 13, 2024 4:29 PM EDT | Source: Pender Harbour and Area Residents Association

Pender Harbour, British Columbia--(Newsfile Corp. - May 13, 2024) - After extensive deliberations and exclusion from government negotiations with the shíshálh Nation, the Pender Harbour and Area Residents Association (PHARA) board has instructed its legal counsel, McMillan LLP, to file proceedings in B.C. Supreme Court.

PHARA will ask the court to rule that the DRIPA is beyond the province's constitutional power and that Order in Council 2022-0444 is invalid. That Order in Council directed two ministers to negotiate an agreement with the shíshálh Nation to give it joint decision-making powers under the B.C. Land Act, concerning dock tenures in the Sechelt area.

"We take this action only after serious reflection and with a deep sense of responsibility," said PHARA director and spokesperson Sean McAllister. "But after nearly two years of being shut out of the shíshálh s. 7 agreement negotiations, after watching the botched consultations on the proposed Land Act amendments and after seeing government repeatedly go far beyond what Canada's constitution requires in terms of Aboriginal rights, we have been left with no choice."

PHARA respects constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights and it supports the principle of reconciliation. But it also believes the DRIPA goes far beyond those principles and is causing unnecessary divisions.

"Now that this decision has been made PHARA looks forward to the court process playing out," added McAllister. "In the meantime, we intend to continue our efforts to build a strong and united community and we hope the province, the shíshálh Nation and others will appreciate that seeking judicial guidance here is a legitimate and respectful step in the reconciliation process."

Any parties wishing to contribute financial support to this litigation are invited to contact PHARA at

About PHARA: PHARA is a volunteer organization which exists to support the vitality of the communities of Pender Harbour and Egmont areas as excellent places to live, work and play for residents and visitors. The Association provides a structure that allows residents to identify issues of broad community concern and have them effectively addressed. PHARA remains firmly committed to the principles of reconciliation and respects the rights and traditions of all peoples. We believe in constructive engagement and are dedicated to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to find solutions that uphold these values and promote long-term harmony and understanding.

About DRIPA: BC passed the DRIPA in 2019. It provides that "government must take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of British Columbia are consistent with the [UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples]". It requires that to be done "In consultation and cooperation with the Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia" but includes no such consultation and cooperation requirement for other British Columbians. The DRIPA also empowers the government to enter into agreements with "Indigenous governing bodies" to give them joint decision-making power, or to require their consent before an approval can be issued under provincial laws (such as dock tenures under the Land Act).


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